Laura Shoe

Sep 082014
 

Lightroom pixel detail As I monitor forums and the Lightroom Help Group on Facebook, I see so much confusion about resolution and how to set it in Lightroom, that I thought it was time for a post on it.

Our photos are made up of pixels – squares of solid color that our camera sensor captures. For example, a photo from a 24 megapixel (MP) camera has 24 million pixels — 6,000 wide x 4,000 high:

 

Lightroom photo size pixels

When we export, we specify how large our copies should be made – reduced for online sharing, possibly increased for large prints, or left at the same size as our master photos. Lightroom is very intelligent in how it removes or adds pixels, to preserve the appearance of our photos. (On enlarging, this does have its limits – read my article, “How Large Can I Print My Photo?

Exporting for Printing

When we export to send something out to print, we are accustomed to specifying size in inches or centimeters rather than in pixels. Lightroom allows us to specify size this way, but for it to figure out how many pixels to output, we have to tell it how many pixels per inch (PPI) to include – this is called resolution.

Inches x Pixels per Inch = Pixels

Equivalently, Inches x Resolution (PPI) = Pixels

In this scenario, in the Resolution box in the Export dialog, we specify for resolution whatever resolution / PPI our printer (or printing service) prints at. Most printers print at 300; Epson printers print at 360 – but check your printer manual or your printing service’s website. This gives your printer the exact number of pixels it needs to print at its best:

Lightroom export resize for print

Lightroom will calculate and output size in pixels: 8”x 10” print at 300 PPI = 2,400 x 3,000 pixels.

If you are printing large and are afraid that you will be upsizing too much and the quality will be poor, don’t make the mistake of reducing resolution! The printer will still print at 300/360, and since you haven’t given it enough pixels, it will do the upsizing. Let Lightroom do it – it will do a better job. There are simply limits to how large you can print.

Printing in the Print Module

Similarly, when printing in the Print module, specify the resolution your printer prints at (i.e. its native resolution):

Lightroom print resolution

For more on the topic of resolution in printing, do read my article, “How Large Can I Print My Photo?

Exporting for Screen-Based Viewing

When we export photos to post online or to send by email for on-screen viewing, we customarily specify size in pixels, since monitor sizes are specified in pixels. For example, for Facebook, I export with the long edge at 960 pixels (vertical photos will be 960 pixels high, horizontal photos, 960 pixels wide):

Lightroom export resize for screen

This is really all we need – when specifying size in pixels, resolution doesn’t matter! Nevertheless, Lightroom won’t let you leave it blank, so go ahead and leave it at its default of 72.

If you have previously thought that the higher the resolution number you enter, the higher quality photo you get, try an experiment – export a photo sized in pixels with a resolution of 1 PPI, and the same photo again at 999 PPI, and compare them – they will be exactly the same! (For techies out there, yes, your file gets tagged with the resolution you set, but printers and monitors ignore it anyway. It could be useful if you plan to export and then open and print from Photoshop – in this case Photoshop will read and use this resolution, so you won’t have to set it there.)

Note that how large in inches your photo displays on someone’s monitor depends on what the monitor’s native resolution is – 72 and 96 PPI are common.

While resolution doesn’t matter when sizing in pixels, nevertheless, if you are submitting photos to an organization that gives you exact requirements – for example, “1024 x 768 pixels at a resolution of 72 PPI”, then give them exactly what they ask for. Either they don’t understand that resolution doesn’t matter here, or they don’t want to waste time explaining that any number will do. The last thing I want is for your photos to be disqualified because of something I wrote.

Exporting without Resizing

Even when you export without resizing, the Resolution box is still active. In this case it won’t affect the size or quality of your file at all. Nonetheless, if you are exporting to send to a printing service, go ahead and put 300 (or what they print at), to avoid any possible confusion at your printer’s. If you are meeting anyone else’s specifications, go ahead and put what they say. Otherwise I ignore this setting.

PPI versus DPI

These terms are often confused. DPI refers to how many dots of ink your printer prints per inch. For example, in my printer driver software, if I set Quality to its highest setting, my printer will print 2880×1440 DPI, so at 360 PPI, it will lay down 2880/360 x 1440/360 = 8×4 = 32 dots of ink for every pixel it prints. This is the only context in which DPI is relevant.

I’ll write more about sizing for export in future articles. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter below to hear about these and much more.

If this has helped demystify resolution for you, check out my Lightroom 5: Producing Great Output video series. In it I demystify many confusing output concepts, and then teach you how to print, and make photo books, slideshows and web galleries, all with Lightroom.


Have any questions or comments regarding this article? Share your thoughts below!

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Aug 072014
 
Save your Lightroom photo work

For those new to Lightroom, naturally you want to understand how to save your work. You’ll notice that the File menu in the menu bar suspiciously does not have “File Save” and “File Save As …” options. The short answer is that as you work in Lightroom – adding keywords, stars, flags and other metadata; developing your photos; creating collections and more, your work is being saved automatically, so there is no need to do a “save” before you wrap up your session.

More on Saving and the Lightroom Catalog

It’s worth understanding this in more detail though. First, Lightroom works non-destructively – meaning that it never touches your master photo files. Instead, your Develop work is saved automatically behind the scenes as a set of instructions.  In Lightroom you are essentially seeing the instructions hovering over your master photos, but the instructions are not baked in to your  masters. This is great, as it means that you can undo all or part of your work at any time – you can’t ruin your photo as you work on it!

lightroom-non-destructive-editing-small

This work or instructions are automatically saved into Lightroom’s catalog. The catalog is simply a file on your computer where your work on each of your photos in Lightroom is stored, along with other information about your photos. The catalog doesn’t contain the photos themselves, just information about them. (Read more about the Lightroom catalog and how it relates to your photos in this article.)

Is Exporting Another Way to Save My Work?

When you want to share your edited photos with the outside world, of course you can’t send people the originals plus a set of Lightroom instructions. This is when you need to create copies of your photos, with the work “baked in”. We do this through the Export dialog – usually we create JPEG copies to share online, through email, to send out to print, etc.

Note that many users believe they need to export all their worked files in order to save their work – this is not the case, and will simply clutter up your hard drive with unnecessary copies. Furthermore, on these copies you can’t undo your work – it has been baked in. For most people, export only when you want to share photos, and once you do, delete the exported copies, since you can always create new ones to share.

The Importance of Catalog Backups

You can imagine, since the Lightroom catalog contains all the work you have ever done on any of your photos, that it is important to back it up – to protect you against two potential crises: (1) the catalog file could become corrupt and be impossible to open, and (2) your hard drive could crash or be stolen or damaged. To protect against the first, back up your catalog using the prompt when Lightroom closes – this creates a series of backups over time that you can revert to, should your main catalog become corrupt. To protect against the second, use backup software outside of Lightroom (Mac Time Machine, Windows Backup, other third party software) to back up the hard drives your catalog and photos are stored on. Read more about backing up your Lightroom catalog and photos in this article. To see where your catalog is stored, in the menu bar in the top left, go to Lightroom (Mac) or Edit (PC) , Catalog Settings. It is listed on the General tab:

lightroom-catalog-location

What I have explained so far is all that I believe beginners absolutely must know. For those who want an additional layer of protection and don’t mind delving into the topic more, there is also the option to “save to XMP“, which also puts the instruction data in the folders along with your master photos. I will cover this topic in another post soon, but for now understand that this is not a substitute for saving into the catalog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter below to hear about new articles and tutorials!


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Jul 302014
 
Lightroom 5.6 Update
Adobe has announced that Lightroom 5.6 is now available. This is a free update to Lightroom 5, with new camera support, new lens profiles, and bug fixes. If Lightroom doesn’t prompt you to update when you open it, go to Help > Check for Updates (or download the update directly from the links provided at the end of this article). Once the file downloads, double-click on it to run the installation wizard. Creative Cloud subscribers can also update through the CC desktop app. Note that it is always a good idea to back up your Lightroom catalog before updating. To do this, go to Edit (PC) / Lightroom (Mac) > Catalog Settings, set the backup prompt to When Lightroom Next Exits, then close Lightroom and choose Backup when prompted.
New Camera Support in Lightroom 5.6
 
  • Nikon D810
  • Panasonic LUMIX AG-GH4
  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ1000
New Lens Profile Support in Lightroom 5.6
 
Mount Name
Canon Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
Canon Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
Canon Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD A010E
Canon Tamron 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 DiIII VC B011EM
Nikon Nikon 1 NIKKOR VR 70-300mm f/4.5 – 5.6
Nikon Tamon 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD A010N
Pentax Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A013
Phase One A/S Schneider Kreuznach LS 40-80mm f/4.0-5.6
Sony Alpha Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A013
Sony Alpha Sony 28mm f/2.8
Sony Alpha Sony 16mm f/2.8 Fisheye
Sony Alpha Sony 100mm f/2.8 MACRO
Sony Alpha Sony DT 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6
Sony Alpha Sony DT 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3
Sony Alpha Sony DT 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3
Sony Alpha Sony 70-200mm f/2.8G
Sony Alpha Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G SSM
Sony Alpha Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM
Sony Alpha Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM II
Sony Alpha Sony 135mm f/2.8 [T4.5] STF
Sony Alpha Sony 300mm f/2.8 G SSM II
Sony E Zeiss Touit 2.8/50M

Note that the profile for the newly added Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens is not automatically located when applying lens profile corrections. This is a bug and we will fix it in an future release. The workaround is to manually select the profile and choose “Save New Lens Profile Defaults” in the Setup menu on the Profile tab. From then on, the lens should automatically select when the profile is enabled.
Bugs Corrected in Lightroom 5.6
 
  • Collections with a custom sort order would sometimes not properly sync with Lightroom mobile. (bug #3787114)
  • Star ratings set in Lightroom mobile did not properly sync to Lightroom desktop. Please note that this only occurred on images that were added to Lightroom mobile from the camera roll (bug #3790201)
  • Star ratings would sometimes not sync from Lightroom desktop to Lightroom mobile. Please note that this only occurred when attempting to sync a Collection that contained more than 100 photos that already contained star ratings. (bug #3786012)
  • Unable to open sRaw files from the Nikon D810. Please note that this only impacted customers that converted D810 sRaw files to DNG in either Camera Raw 8.6 RC or DNG Converter 8.6 RC. (bug #3792432)
  • Lightroom occasionally crashed when changing image selection on Windows. Please note that this only occurred on the Windows platform.
  • Lightroom would run in reduced functionality mode when it should not. (bug #3780138)
Continue reading »
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Jul 112014
 
Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Subscription
Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Program subscription for $9.99/month is a great deal in my opinion, based on what you get:
  • Always up-to-date versions of Lightroom and Photoshop (no need to pay more to upgrade to Lightroom’s next major upgrade when it comes out!)
  • Syncing to Lightroom mobile for the iPad and iPhone (and Android sometime this year)
  • 2 GB of cloud storage
  • A Behance.net pro account
However, potential subscribers and users of Lightroom have had a major concern – if you stopped paying, you could lose access not only to Lightroom, but also to your Lightroom catalog – which contains all the work you have ever done on your photos. Well, no more! Starting with Lightroom 5.5, if your subscription expires and you choose not to renew, you can still use Lightroom – forever. The catch is that you will be locked out of the Develop and Map modules, and you won’t be able to sync to your mobile devices.  While you therefore won’t be able to do additional photo editing other than Quick Develop work, you can continue to organize and manage your photos (even import new photos), and create any kind of output from Lightroom (export copies of your photos, print; and make books, slideshows and web galleries.)

Update/Clarification: You will not lose the Develop work you have done prior to your subscription expiring. If it does expire you will be locked out of doing additional Develop work, but you can create output that has your edits, you can reset your photo to undo your edits, you can refine them with the Quick Develop panel, and you can save them to XMP so that they are available in other programs that read this information (such as Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw.)

This is also the case if you get a free 30-day trial of Lightroom!

Adobe clearly has confidence that their Creative Cloud offering and Lightroom’s Develop editing tools are compelling enough that you will continue to subscribe.

Note that if instead of a subscription you have or purchase the perpetual-license stand-alone version rather than the Creative Cloud subscription you will continue to have access to all modules in the Lightroom version you purchased. Adobe has stated that they will continue to offer these perpetual-license stand-alone versions “indefinitely”.


 

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Jul 032014
 
Lightroom before and after

In this sample video tutorial from my Lightroom 5: The Fundamentals & Beyond video series, I show you all the different ways to view Before and After in Lightroom:

  • Working with the History panel
  • Using the “\” key
  • Toggling on and off specific panel and tool work
  • The Y/Y button

I also show you how to change the definition of “Before” so you can compare any previous step to your current work.

For best quality, hit Play, then click on the Youtube sprocket wheel in the bottom right and choose 720/HD.
(For even better quality, consider purchasing the full series.)

Check out Lightroom 5: The Fundamentals & Beyond for more in-depth expert Lightroom training! Also available in Lightroom 4 and Lightroom 3 versions.


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Jun 182014
 
Lightroom 5.5 mobile iPhone

Today Adobe released Lightroom 5.5 along with Lightroom mobile for the iPhone. Along with the usual new camera support, new lens profiles, and bug fixes, the free Lightroom 5.5 update includes support for syncing with the new iPhone app, and a few other changes targeted at Lightroom mobile and Creative Cloud subscribers. Watch my video below to see the changes in action, or read on below the video for details.

Creative Cloud subscribers: update through the CC app. Otherwise, to install the free update, if Lightroom doesn’t prompt you to update, go to Help>Check for Updates, download the file, then double-click on it to run the installation wizard. If Check for Updates doesn’t find the update, try again later or download the update at the link at the bottom of this page. As with all updates, I highly recommend backing up your catalog before updating.

Video: What’s New in Lightroom 5.5, Lightroom Mobile
and the Creative Cloud Photography Program

For best quality, hit Play, then click on the Youtube sprocket wheel in the bottom right and choose 720/HD.

What’s New

  • Syncing to and from the new free Lightroom mobile app for iPhone. Functionality is essentially the same as the iPad app (released with Lightroom 5.4.)
  • In addition to picking and rejecting photos on the iPad and iPhone, we can now add and sync rating stars.
Rating Stars Lightroom Mobile

Assigning Stars in Lightroom Mobile

  • Collections in Lightroom desktop chosen for sync: can be directly shared to the web via new context menu options: Continue reading »
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